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Lower Sugar Prices Aren't Always

A Sweet Deal for Consumers

Contrary to the author's contention in the article "Congress Sours On Uncle Sam's Sweet Deal With Sugar Growers," Sept. 28, consumers are winners, not losers, as a result of the sugar program. American consumers pay less, not more, for sugar than consumers in almost every developed country. For example, the Japanese pay $1.04 per pound, and the French pay 68 cents. The average retail price in the world's industrialized nations is 54 cents. For Americans, it's just 38 cents per pound.

The world sugar market is the antithesis of a free market. It's a market of about 15 percent of the world's production, into which foreign governments that pay farmers huge subsidies unload their surpluses by selling sugar at a fraction of what it costs them to produce it.

Department of Agriculture and Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that lower sugar prices simply do not produce lower food costs. While sugar prices have fallen nearly 7 percent since 1990, the cost of candy rose 9.6 percent, ice cream increased by 7.3 percent, and cookies went up 17 percent.

The sugar farmers of America challenge opponents of the American sugar program to explain how consumers are going to save if the giant food companies continue to raise their prices - even when sugar prices fall.

Robert Buker

Clewiston, Fla.

Senior Vice President

US Sugar Corporation

Stories of harmony in L.A.

I was sorry to see the front-page article "O.J. Morality Play Uncovers Depth of Racial Divide," Oct. 2. Granted, there appears to be a "racial divide" in some communities, but there is also much evidence of harmony in this diverse city. As a Los Angeles resident for several years, I have always cherished the racial and ethnic diversity here. The media have done a real disservice to both Los Angeles and the world in giving the impression that everyone is racially divided. For every "racial problem," a story about great compassion and understanding between people of different races could be reported. Only in this way can this reported "divide" be closed.

Jodie Windal

Los Angeles

Top education worth big bucks

The editorial "College and Debt," Oct. 2, mentions that a good "alternative" for low- to moderate-income students to save money would be to attend a junior or community college.

While this may save money, the students must forgo a top-quality education. What about the low-income student who won't benefit from the junior or community level? If you assume that an education is an education regardless of the price tag, then why would some students pay $20,000 a year for college while others spend $2,000 a year? The answer to this is that as price goes up, quality also increases.

At higher-priced institutions, classes are smaller and professors pay more attention to the students, grade harder, and thus challenge the students to think independently.

If government funding is cut in any form and students are forced to attend the "alternative," the nation would be undermining the ability of many students and compromising the quality of education in this nation for the sake of balancing a budget.

David Gonzalez

El Paso, Texas

Russia: Restore ties with Europe

As recent coverage by the Monitor and newspapers here in Moscow shows, anti-NATO fears in Russia are reaching new heights. Andrei Kozyrev at the United Nations and other Russian policymakers are giving dire warnings that Europe may be again divided into blocs. These pronouncements are not only ineffective, but detrimental to Russian interests.

Instead of demanding to be treated as an "equal partner with the West," Russian interests would be much better served by strengthening bilateral relations with individual European countries and thus creating more leverage with the present members of NATO.

The real key to future Russian security is economics. Establishing strong trade relationships with European states will integrate Russia into Europe, without joining NATO. After all, NATO's policies today are not governed by a present Soviet threat, but rather by a desire to retain political stability in Europe so that the interdependent Western economies remain healthy. NATO members who are economically interdependent with a democratic Russia will give greater respect to Russia and its interests.

Darrell Stanaford

Moscow

Visiting Researcher

Institute for World Economy and

International Relations

Stonehenge: a visitor's delight

We were both amused and horrified to read that Stonehenge is considered by some to be a "touristic slum" and a "national disgrace" ("Where the Druids Raised Stones, Preservationists Raise a Ruckus," Oct. 2). This year we took our grandson to England to ride the Chunnel and to visit Stonehenge. We heard that access was being limited and feared it would not be as satisfying as our 1965 visit. Well, it was much better. We arrived at lunch time, parked easily, and spent a delightful hour learning almost as much as we had learned from 30 years of books and study.

Thomas and Vivian Reed Golden, Colo.

Your letters are welcome. For publication they must be signed and include your address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published and none acknowledged. Letters should be addressed to "Readers Write" and may be sent by mail to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, by fax to 617-450-2317, or by Internet e-mail (200 words maximum) to OPED@RACHEL.CSPS.COM.

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